Special Thanks To:
Chris Eder, MSgt (Ret) USAF
All the images used in this template are the property of MalaforVets and used with permission.
Almost every religion has a form of mala beads. The Desert Fathers used knotted ropes. The Catholics use the Holy Rosary. The Hindus and Buddhist use Japa Mala. Japa is the repeating of a mantra. Mala (Sanskrit) means garland or wreath.
MalaforVets is Chris Eder's Seva Project to raise money for Veteran Yoga projects like: Mindful Yoga Therapy for Vets, The Save A Warrior Project, and the Give Back Yoga Foundation. Chris is a Yoga Alliance registered Vinyasa and Hatha Interdisciplinary yoga instructor. He is the Communications Director for Mindful Yoga Therapy for Vets, a Sivana Ambassador, and is currently working on his 500RYT. He also has PTSD and A.D.D.
WHAT DO THE MALA BEADS MEAN?
Traditional malas used in Tibetan practices have 108 beads used for counting. This represents four sets of 27 beads. 27 being three multiples of nine beads. Counting beads always occur in multiples of nine, representing the 9 yanas, or paths, of Buddhist practice:
Three multiples of 9 symbolizes purification of body, speech, and mind. There are four sets of 27 beads symbolizing the Four Noble Truths taught by the Buddha.
If spacer beads are used, there are three, placed so that the counted beads are broken into 4 sets of 27 beads. The three spacer beads represent the three jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
The Guru bead represents the mind of the Guru, and the cap bead placed above it (usually containing three carved rings) represents the three enlightened kayas, or manifestations, of the Buddha: Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nimanakaya. The Guru and cap bead are not part of the counted beads, and it is taught that one never "passes over" these beads. Instead one reverses the mala, and begins counting back in the other direction. To "pass over" the Guru and cap beads is said to be disrespectful to the Buddha and Guru.
All Tibetan ritual implements contain symbolic representations meant to strengthen our connection to, and internalization of, the Dharma. Understanding of these various symbolic representations is important to proper use of these implements, and deepens our practice.